Phase 2 of the reduced lateral separation minimums (RLatSM) expansion plan in the North Atlantic Tracks (NAT) has been further delayed by four weeks, to February 1. A new bulletin from the NAT management group confirms the Phase 2 implementation day but does not provide a reason for the extended delay.
Under Phase 2, all routes above FL350 will have reduced lateral spacing, leaving only a couple of tracks—spaced at 50 nm—for everyone else. The initial phase of RLatSM from 50 nm to 25 nm in the NAT was introduced in December 2016. Since then, there has been the option for appropriately equipped aircraft to use one of the three new RLatSM routes.
Meanwhile, Iceland, Portugal, and the U.S. will continue with their performance-based communications and surveillance (PBCS) implementations as planned on March 29. Due to different operating environments in the Gander and Shanwick operational control areas, Canada and the UK are working on different implementation paths that might need to be considered to ensure accommodating non-PBCS authorized users without penalizing them unintentionally.
The NAT bulletin also emphasizes that PBCS implementation will not be mandated and reduced separation will be applied only between PBCS-qualified aircraft.